A study of english loanwords in French written texts and advertisements and the perceptions and attitudes of the francophone readership

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The frequency, scope and perception of the use of English loanwords (ELWs) in the French language remains incompletely understood. This study examined the frequency and types of ELWs appearing in French written texts (FWTs) and advertisements (ads); and also explored the perceptions of natives of France toward this usage. To ascertain the frequency and types of ELWs, excerpts were randomly selected from two French dailies, le Figaro Quotidien and la Croix, and two French magazines, Les Inrocks and Paris Match from 2010 to 2015. For each year, a single issue was subsequently selected and reviewed using a systematic procedure which took into account the number of issues produced per year, and the approximate volume of each issue. A total of 30 natives of France resident in France and the United States participated in an attitude and perceptions’ survey composed of a structured questionnaire. Results of the study are consistent with previous evidence that nouns are the most affected category of lexical borrowings and that ELWs in French are adapted to reflect the morpho-phonological structure of the French language. The majority of the ELWs identified were well-established borrowings some of which do not seem to have French equivalents and hence may be seen as filling a linguistic lacunae in the French language. Hybrid and pseudo-Anglicisms, which are lexical creations as opposed to integral borrowings were also identified - majority of which consisted of compounds simply juxtaposed (N+N, ADJ+N) instead of the traditional compounding structure often used in French that requires a relational particle (N of N). Although there is some historical precedent for it, the greatly expanded use of simply juxtaposed compounds (especially N+N binomials) is likely influenced by contact with the English. Les Inrocks had the highest prevalence of the use of ELWs, but there was not a significant pattern of increase observed. In terms of natives’ attitudes, both native groups consider the use of ELWs as due to laziness and as part of “trendy” language use with no threat to the French language. However, natives expressed concern about the need to protect French language from English influence.

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Foreign language education